Awesome Person #11 – Meet Steven!
Steven and I met during our first year instructing at Keystone. Steven always had the adventurous spirit and was a highly motivated individual. If he wanted to do something, he just went for it! Motivated is a perfect way to describe Steven…through his story below you will see exactly why! Enjoy and please take the time to check out Steven’s Facebook as well as the Summit For Someone program!
Tell me about your seasonal story. What made you want to change up your life?
My seasonal story really began on some really great ski trips about the time I graduated high school. Two of my best friends, who happen to be brothers, were gracious enough to invite me on their annual family trip for several years in a row. We visited Park City a few times and then Jackson Hole and Whistler. I found myself day dreaming of these places often throughout my collegiate career. I attended the University of South Carolina and was actually a member of the baseball team. We would take our ski trip during Christmas break and I tried very hard to conceal these vacations from our coach. He who would have died if he knew we were jumping off anything we could find in Jackson only a month from the start of the season. Luckily I escaped all of those trips unscathed and after college ended and life settled in for a while I got the notion to head west from North Carolina in search of deep powder and the chance to live the dream.
I applied to a few different resorts and ended up becoming a snowboard instructor at Keystone Resort in beautiful Colorado! At the time I had never actually been to Keystone or even Colorado. My thirst for a truly great winter allowed me to make that blind leap of faith and it was totally worth it! That first year in Keystone I met so many neat people and had the most epic winter of my life. As luck would have it Colorado had one of its snowiest winters on record that year. The free spirit and energy of everyone that winter was palpable and it really had a lasting effect on my psyche. Being around those kinds of people and those snowy conditions really gave me the ability to step out of what I considered a “normal” life style and thought process and enter into a “true to myself state of mind.”
What happened after you first seasonal gig?
After my first “seasonal gig” I was stuck with a case of wanderlust. I had moved back to North Carolina for a lucrative summer job and was dreaming up where I could go for the next winter. I put all of my eggs in the basket of Jackson Hole. A week before I was slated to move there and try out as an instructor I received an email saying they decided they were full and to close the hiring process for that year. I scrambled to cancel an apartment I had already put a security deposit towards in Jackson and to find the right direction to go. By that time of the year every resort I contacted was full and it quickly became apparent that I was out of luck for that year… or so I thought.
It also quickly became apparent that from my time in CO I learned how to not just think outside of but completely live outside of the box! My best friend Eryk had visited me for over a month in CO the year before and was just as disappointed that the job in Jackson fell through. We got together and came up with this crazy idea to basically live out of my truck for the winter and visit as many places as we could. The plan turned into a dream of a road trip and fueled a sense of adventure for many years to come! We showed up in Jackson planning on staying a couple days. It wouldn’t quit snowing so we ended up staying close to three weeks and it snowed every single day! We drove north into Canada, then west to Whistler stopping at great spots in Montana and Banff along the way. On the return voyage we came through Washington and eventually back through Colorado. We spent several nights in temps of -10 and below, one night it reached all the way down to -18 and quite frankly we didn’t give a shit! We would wake up frozen but the powder was everywhere and we truly living the dream! At that time in our lives it was more than we could have asked for. Eryk and I remain great friends and look back on that winter as the greatest we will ever have.
You’ve been a part of an organization called Summit For Someone. What is this organization all about?
The Summit For Someone program is the primary fundraiser for a charity called Big City Mountaineers (BCM). Through this awesome program anyone has the chance to test out their mountaineering skills while raising funds for a great cause. Big City Mountaineers is quickly becoming a nationwide charity that takes urban youth on wilderness mentoring trips. Their core program consists of a week-long adventure where five teens are guided by five positive adult mentors. A week in the woods with one-to- one has had a profound impact on many of the youth that are at risk of dropping out of school, using drugs and just flat out being lost in life. Last year 150 climbers raised enough to send over 2,000 kids on trips!
The Summit For Someone program offers climbs of varying difficulty on nearly 20 mountains around the world. In exchange for meeting their fundraising goal every climber is rewarded with a gear package, training advice and a guided trip with the leading guide service on the mountain of their choice!
How did you get involved with the Summit For Someone program?
A couple of years ago I was flipping through a Backpacker Magazine and came upon a challenge from the Editor in Chief, Jon Dorn. The challenge was to join him and a few professional athletes like Cedar Wright and Eric Larsen on a climb of Mt. Whitney to benefit Big City Mountaineers. I have always had an interest in charitable works and a strong passion for mountains so I signed up immediately! The Expedition on Mt. Whitney was an out of this world experience for myself. Climbing a mountain of that size and beauty was Heavenly and the company was just as memorable.
And thanks to the lessons learned from the seasonal life style, I had the foresight to reward myself and a friend for all the hard work during the fundraising and training campaign. Instead of flying out to California for the climb I decided to drive and it was one of the best decisions of my life. After the climb another great friend, Garrett, flew to CA to meet me and we turned into Kings of the road! We spent a week climbing and marveling at the grandeur of Yosemite. We stayed and played in Sequoia, survived in Death Valley and then got our wings atop Angels Landing in Zion! From there we went to Moab and tried to kill ourselves on mountain bikes, we were nearly successful. And as luck would have it, when we reached Colorado there was still a little snow left to play on. Needless to say this was another trip of epic proportions that I still reflect on often.
What made you want to give up all of this time to this cause?
The cause of Big City Mountaineers echoes strongly inside of me. The joys and strife of adventure have given me a confident yet humble approach to life that seems to help me in all of my endeavors. I am honored to work with an organization that gives youth the ability to incorporate these life skills into their future.
What was the scariest part of the adventure for you?
The moment it ended! I remember thinking, “What on Earth am I going to do next?”
Was there ever a point where you didn’t think you’d make it or mentally just wanted to quit?
No. I get those feelings in regular life all the time but not often on a mountain… I think that’s why I, and many others enjoy adventure so much!
What does your family think of your past seasonal life and your climbing adventures?
I have been blessed with an extremely accepting and loving family. We shed tears and share prayers before I leave and then celebrate and tell stories when I get back. They have always urged me to do what makes me happy and having their selfless backing makes this life style more doable.
Any Regrets? Would you do it again?
Although I’m sure I could look back and find some things to regret I try not to. Regret is a poison in life. Yeah, I would do it again. In fact last summer I somehow was able to swing two Summit For Someone climbs into great road trips. In June I went to Mt. Shasta with the Backpacker crew and their new editor in Chief Dennis Lewon. Then after volunteering for BCM at the Outdoor Retailer show in SLC I was able to head north to Jackson Hole, WY and climb my dream… The Grand Teton!
Reaching the top… What’s it like?
Reaching the top of a mountain you have dreamed of is a heavenly experience. In particular I remember scrambling the last few meters to the Summit of the Grand Teton. The sun had just crested the horizon and was shining so brightly in my face that it literally felt like walking into heaven. Afterwards I watched the video from that moment and I was crying, laughing and screaming for joy all at the same time. I was in such a flow state at that point and so drenched in my surroundings, I’m not really sure if there is any difference between heaven and those kinds of moments.
click this link to watch that moment on The Grand Teton and see what Summit for Someone is all about!
Here’s your chance to hand out a piece of advice… what would you say to someone looking to embark on a seasonal adventure or joining the Summit For Someone program for a climb?
I would most definitely advise everyone to give both a try. Its cliché to say that you only live once but the reality is that you do and if you’re lucky enough to grow old you’re going to want some adventurous memories to look back on. You don’t have to climb all twenty mountains with Summit For Someone or chase powder endlessly throughout the American west to live a fulfilled life. But, if you have the desire to give either a try, you should. It can seem daunting to change up your life in such a drastic manner or participate in an expedition outside of your comfort zone but once you make that decision to commit everything will fall surprisingly into place.
Best Wishes and Safe Travels! Steven Reinhold
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*If you have an awesome story or know of someone who does, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!